Land surveys consist of six basic tasks:

  1. Determinizing your position on Earth using celestial navigation methods
  2. Measuring distances with a Gunter’s Chain.
  3. Measuring changes in elevation with a Range Pole
  4. Measurement of directions and angles using a Compass.
  5. Drawing the map on a Plane Table, and
  6. Computing areas with basic plane geometry

In this series we will discuss the fundamentals of doing these tasks in the manner and with tools similar to those available to surveyors in the 18th Century.

Basic Tools of the 18th Century Surveyor

  • A set of 11 chaining pins.
  • A 66-foot Gunter’s chain
  • Two range poles
  • A plumb bob on a string
  • Pencil and field notebook
  • A sight alidade
  • A Spirit Level and a Plane Table
  • A Sighting Compass
  • Various dividers and drafting tools
  • A Nautical Sextant
  • An accurate chromometer or watch
  • A well-trained team


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Published by Michael Carver

My goal is to bring history alive through interactive portrayal of ordinary American life in the late 18th Century (1750—1799) My persona are: Journeyman Brewer; Cordwainer (leather tradesman but not cobbler), Statesman and Orator; Chandler (candle and soap maker); Gentleman Scientist; and, Soldier in either the British Regular Army, the Centennial Army, or one of the various Militia. Let me help you experience history 1st hand!

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